THINK BY DESIGN
HOW DO I COME UP WITH THE BIG IDEAS?
An entrepreneur is constantly looking at things differently, turning things up-side-down to see if there is an opportunity. They mix with inspiring, progressive thinkers who fearlessly discuss new ideas, new ways of doing things and of conquering new worlds. James T. Kirk from the original Star Trek series was an entrepreneur, describing the mission of Enterprise: "to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before".
Nature inspires us to think, to think outside of the box. If we do not question things in a constructive way we risk living in the darkness of someone else’s negative box. Living inside of the box is not always a negative thing, if we are in the right kind of box. For example the laws of aerodynamics are the only box to live in if you decide to go flying.
Thinking is a great gift, and tells us we are fully conscious human beings. If Jack in the box lived his whole life inside of his box, he would never have enjoyed the color and beauty of the world outside, or brought happiness to millions of children. Thinking about thinking will help to lift the lid on boxed-in-thinking.
One evening while bathing my seven year old son Levi, he looked up at me and said, “Dad, do you like being you?” This was one of those deeply profound child-like philosophical questions. “Yes, most of the time,” I answered. “Do you like being you?” I asked. “Yes, yes, I do,” he assured me. It made me realize that a sense of wonder about who we are and the world around us is our ultimate wealth, the ultimate mindset.
Born in 1596, Rene Descartes was the French philosopher who created the phase, “Cogito, ergo sum”, “I think, therefore I am.” This was his conclusion upon questioning his own existence. According to Descartes, his belief in his own existence was the firm foundation upon which he could build further knowledge or philosophy. My son was thinking therefore he was; he was an air sucking, food consuming, biological organism. In this statement, Descartes was describing the greatest gift of all - consciousness. He sensed his personhood, conscious of his own independent existence.
We are free spirits, contained within a magnificent body of flesh and blood. We are aware that we exist in a vast universe of stars, planets and other human beings; we are our own person, confined to our own body and not merged with everybody else on the planet. Imagine entering someone else’s body, like entering a room, and becoming instantly aware of their most intimate thoughts and feelings.
Consciousness is one of the great wonders of the universe. It is where self is seated and life becomes real. Where I become my own person, free to be me, free to create, and even free to destroy if I so choose.
Entrepreneurs think in color! At this stage it would be helpful to think-about-thinking. The key to the success of the entrepreneur is not so much in her or his outer world, as it is the inner universe of thinking.
A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.
Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard, asks the question: How would someone from outer space, landing on earth, view the intelligence of the human species? In his book, Frames of Mind, Gardener outlines his “Theory of Multiple Intelligences1” which goes beyond the view that the standard IQ test is an adequate measure of a person’s intelligence.
In the movie A Beautiful Mind, Russell Crowe plays the part of the absent minded but brilliant mathematician John Nash, who clearly needed to develop his social intelligence. In one scene he approaches an attractive woman in a bar and says: “Listen, I don’t have the words to say whatever it is that’s necessary to get you into bed, so can we just pretend I said those things and skip to the part where we exchange bodily fluids?” With a slap around the face, he quickly learns that sex without love or friendship is not what she wants. 2
John Nash was highly developed in the area of logical and mathematical intelligence, but he was socially inept. To be educated in one or two departments of intelligence can leave us limited or incomplete as human beings. We can have a highly developed intelligence in one area of our lives and be totally under-developed in another. The IQ test only evaluates an individual’s ability in a few areas; mainly linguistic and logical-mathematical with some visual and spatial tasks included.
Gardner, in his groundbreaking book, draws from a wide range of research and outlines seven intelligent centers, that he believes better represent a more complete view of human intelligences. These are:
- “Linguistic Intelligence – the ability to read, write and communicate with words.
- Logical-Mathematical Intelligence – the ability to reason and calculate, and to think things through in a logical, systematic way.
- Visual-Spatial Intelligence – the ability to think in pictures, visualize a future result, and to imagine things in the mind’s eye.
- Musical Intelligence – the ability to make or compose music, to sing well or understand and appreciate music, and to keep rhythm.
- Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence – the ability to use your body skillfully to solve problems or present ideas and emotions, displayed in athletic, artistic or building pursuits (dancing, acting, construction).
- Interpersonal [Social] Intelligence – the ability to work effectively with others, to relate to other people, to display empathy and understanding, and to notice their motivations and goals.
- Intrapersonal Intelligence – the ability for self-analysis and reflection… to contemplate and assess one’s accomplishments, review one’s behavior’s and innermost feelings… to make plans and set goals.” 3
This view of intelligence impacts the world of education and takes us from a preoccupation withIntelligence Quotient (IQ), to recognition of each person’s unique intelligence mix. We need to develop in all areas of intelligence; however, the reality is that we will learn and naturally become stronger in certain intelligence centers, more than others.
In their book on Accelerated Learning, Colin Rose and Malcolm Nicholl point out that, “In essence, this new way of regarding intelligence tells us that there are “multiple windows leading into the same room” and that “students can be approached and learn from a number of perspectives.” 4 This shows that our ability to see is not one-dimensional; it happens at a number of levels, in a variety of ways.
LEVELS OF INTELLIGENCE
In Stephen Covey’s book, The 8th Habit, 5 he gives his view of human intelligence. This is similar to what I have already outlined and inclusive of most of the aspects discussed by Howard Gardner.
Each intelligent centre, Covey says, corresponds to the four parts of our human makeup: body, mind, heart and spirit. Mental Intelligence, he explains, is “our ability to analyze, reason, think abstractly, use language, visualize and comprehend.” 6 Physical Intelligence, according to Covey, is everything our “body does without any conscious effort. It runs your respiratory, circulatory, nervous and other vital systems. It is constantly scanning its environment, destroying diseased cells and fighting for survival.” “Doctors, he says, acknowledge that the body heals itself and that medicine simply facilitates it’s healing.”7
Emotional Intelligence he defines as “one’s self-knowledge, self-awareness, social sensitivity, empathy and ability to communicate successfully with others.” This concept has been popularized and developed by Daniel Goleman in his books on the subject of Emotional Intelligence, stating that, “emotions play a far greater role in thought, decision making and individual success than is commonly acknowledged…and that performance in all jobs, in every field, emotional competence is deemed to be twice as important as purely cognitive abilities.” 9
Finally Covey describes Spiritual Intelligence, pointing out that this area is becoming mainstream in regards to scientific inquiry. “Spiritual Intelligence,” he says, “is the central and most fundamental of all the intelligences because it becomes the source of guidance for the other three… Spiritual intelligence also helps us discern true north, truth principles, that are part of our conscience.” 10
LEVELS OF SEEING
Ultimately, seeing, even physically, does not happen in the cornea, pupil, iris, lens or retina; it happens within our brain. The biological eye puts us in touch with the physical world. Seeing mentally has to do with our ability to reason, understand, think and analyze. When seeing things intellectually we say things like: “It dawned on me; I see it now”; “I understand” or “It’s as clear as day (or mud)!” This ability enables us to see ideas, concepts, philosophies, beliefs, truth and the thoughts expressed by others.
When talking about seeing mentally, both Gardner and Covey refer to left-brain activity. When talking about seeing emotionally, they are referring to right-brain activity.
At the mental and emotional level, seeing clearly is thinking clearly! Left-brain thinking has to do with orderly, logical, systematic, sequential, and the analytical processing of information. Whereas seeing emotionally involves right-brain activity and has to do with the creative, intuitive, imaginative, emotional, pictorial, artistic, musical, instinctive forms of thinking.
We need to understand that these four [or seven, as Gardner outlines] intelligence centers are not separate boxes; there is a crossover as they mesh and work together. For example, our self-image can begin as an emotional equation, then move to the level of our human spirit and become a spiritual force of either inferiority or confidence. A powerful emotional experience goes beyond the desktop level of thinking, taking root deep within our hard drive. Viruses such as inferiority can, if not dealt with, penetrate every area of our thinking with self-doubt and fear, just as confidence-building experiences can positively affect our thinking with optimism and courage.
Plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz, tells the stories of those that have under gone major face reconstruction, then on viewing their new faces insist that, “nothing has changed”. Friends and family may hardly recognize them, and point out the change, only to be told that they can see no difference. He says, “Comparison of “before” and “after” photographs does little good, except possibly to arouse hostility.”11 This shows that our physical ability to see can be blinded by our mental, emotional and spiritual state.
When it comes to understanding or seeing spiritual realities it can be difficult due to their invisible nature. Substances such as love, truth, conscience, faith, imagination, intuition, dreaming, hope, peace and wisdom; or negative forces such as fear, rejection, bitterness and anger, are all invisible and yet extremely real in our everyday experience.
To be a wise entrepreneur we need to understand how people tick, and how we tick.